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 Airmen receive Basic Aircrew qualification
 Crews qualify for C-130, C-17 and KC 135 evacuation missions
Aeromedical Evacuation Formal Training Unit graduates 2nd class
Nineteen members of the 2nd graduation class at the 440th's Aeromedical Evacuation Formal Training Unit are all smiles after completing 27 days of rigorous training. Now certified as flight nurses and medical technicians, many of these Airmen will soon deploy to forward operating locations joining other aeromedical teams providing medical care to wounded soldiers. ( U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Green)
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AE FTU Graduates 2nd Class

Posted 3/8/2011   Updated 4/2/2011 Email story   Print story


by Lisa Moore
440th Airlift Wing

3/8/2011 - March 8, 2011 -- The 440th Airlift Wing's Aeromedical  Evacuation Formal Training Unit is one of the many resources the Air Force Reserve uses to provide and maintain a force that is operational, combat ready and mobile.

The second ever AE FTU class has officially graduated at Pope Field.

In a graduation ceremony held Monday, 19 Reserve and active- duty flight nurses and aeromedical  technicians from across the nation proudly received their Basic Aircrew Qualification. 

The first facility of its kind, the AE FTU trains Air Force Reservists, active-duty members and Air National Guard service members to medically transport wounded personnel on three different aircraft during combat operations and humanitarian missions -- a task Col. Merle D. Hart, 440th Airlift Wing commander, says is important.

"We are a country that has been at war for the past ten years," said Colonel Hart. "Thank you for taking on this mission of taking care of our wounded warriors and bringing them home."

"We provide life saving care and support for wounded Department of Defense personnel, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines," said Col. Martha Soper, commander of the AE FTU. "Our biggest customer is the Army. The Army has helicopters for transportation of shorter distances, but we have the capability of longer haul transports. We transport the wounded warrior to stateside and overseas treatment facilities for further medical care."

During the ceremony Colonel Soper congratulated the graduates on their accomplishment.

"This class is tough," she said. "What you learned here, is how to perform your mission, the mission of your role as an aeromedical evacuation crewmember treating wounded warriors. You learned to do it as a team."

In a focused atmosphere, students are rigorously trained and tested using different methods. Students studied regulations, practiced equipment movement exercises on felt board, trained on simulators and during actual flights.

The class consists of four crews, each crew consists of two flight nurses and three aeromedical evacuation technicians. The five-man teams are taught to work together. Each student receives one-to-one training during their simulated missions and training flights

"One of the most challenging parts of the course is taking Airmen from different backgrounds and getting them to work as a team," said Capt. Karen Knoblock, AE FTU director of operations. "They may know their jobs individually, but here they will learn about crew integrity and what it takes to work together to fulfill the mission. That is important."

Staff Sgt. Freddie Bellamy, an aeromedical evacuation technician from the 315th Airlift Wing,  Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. agreed.

"When you have to work as a team, it throws in a new variable. It was difficult, but with this course we were able to get concise training on how to accomplish the mission, together."

To graduate from the class, students successfully completed open and closed book tests, an emergency procedures examination and in-flight evaluations.

Successful completion of all requirements means the Airmen are qualified to perform their duties on three different airframes used by the Air Force and Air Force Reserve for medical evacuation missions: the C-130, C-17 and the KC-135.

"Before the AE FTU, students received their Initial Qualification training at home units," said Captain Knoblock. "What took 120 to 180 days, now takes 28 days."

Captain Knoblock commented on the training curriculum and equipment.
"With this course we know that everyone is getting standardized and proper training for the job. They learn things such as equipment requirements and placement for the various aircraft. We test their capability to perform in flight. They train using regular mannequins, some of which weigh up to 250 pounds, and they train on the iSTAN."

The iSTAN Mannekin is the human-like teaching mannequin that sweats, bleeds, breathes and talks, saying phrases like "Ouch!" and "I hurt." According to Captain Knoblock "it even counts backwards."

 Maj. Bonnie Stevenson, an active duty flight nurse with Pope Fields 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron says the class was a challenge but worth it.

"The class was a great experience, there were long hours and lots of studying," she said. "But failure was not an option."

With a mission of providing mission ready Combat Airlifters and equipment, anywhere, anytime the 440th Airlift Wing command looks forward to the future of the AE FTU. The next training class is scheduled to begin April 18, 2011.

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